On July 20, Kentucky’s Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary heard an advocate of the Clean Slate Initiative. The Committee and Representative Kimberly Poore Moser intend to propose the idea in January’s legislative session. They wish to call upon the General Assembly to offer low-level, non-violent individuals a second chance.
Nationwide, individuals with non-violent, low-level convictions often face similar struggles when reentering society. For example, their records act as obstacles when job hunting, seeking housing, even volunteering at their kids’ schools. These challenges have inspired much of the U.S. to enact various Clean Slate laws.
The Clean Slate initiative attempts to give everyone a chance at redemption. It would expand what records could receive expungement after individuals complete their sentences. In addition, it would qualify specific convictions for automatic sealing, easing the burden of advocating for expunged records.
Kentucky’s current process for expunging records has proven challenging and costly. It requires individuals to request an expungement certificate by mail, in-person, or online and to pay fees based on the type of conviction. They must also submit it with a petition in the Office of Circuit Court Clerk tied to the county with the original filed charge.
After completing these steps, the courts will review the request, and a judge will decide whether to proceed. Many people find this process complicated; others confessed uncertainty about whether they qualified for expungement. This uncertainty has led to many eligible individuals never knowing they can request expunged records.
Several lawmakers recently testified before the Interim Joint Judiciary Committee, voicing suggestions for improving the expungement process. Their testimony thoroughly demonstrated the challenges previously incarcerated individuals face when reentering society. They concluded the simulation with a call for Kentucky to adopt a proper Clean Slate Act.
According to the Act, residents would become eligible after completing their sentence and not committing another crime for five years. It would also have the state notify individuals when they qualify for expungement. The Act would involve the Administrative Office of the Courts and Kentucky State Police in this process, then have a judge determine final approval.
Some lawmakers do not support the proposed legislation. One lawmaker believes that small businesses have the right to know about potential employees’ criminal backgrounds. As such, he argued that the government should not decide to hide that information.
Such concerns have delayed Rep. Moser’s push for similar Clean Slate legislation. Earlier in the year, her bill failed to pass before the legislative session ended. However, she intends to try again in the 2024 legislative session held in January.
It remains uncertain whether legislation will acknowledge or pass the Clean Slate Bill. Regardless, employers should consider the relevance of convictions and open job positions. One way is by considering effective second-chance hiring programs. The best way to start is by partnering with an experienced background check company.
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